US law plans penalties for refusing to return American children abducted by parents


January 6 , 2014

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

A law that is in the making in the US has the potential to further strain India-America ties that are already hit by a row over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.

India_Abducted_Child

The Senate is set to consider a Bill that seeks to empower the US president to impose tough penalties on any country that refuses to return American children “abducted” by their own parents. The legislation that has already passed the House of Representatives covers cases where one of the parents  takes his or her child away from the US and relocates to a foreign country, sources in the US government said.

India is among the top 10 destinations of “parental abduction of children”. The number of such “abducted” American children in India was 95 at the end of 2012. These cases originate from marital discords in Indian-American families and involve one parent relocating to India with the children to pre-empt legal actions by the other parent in the US.

The provisions in the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Bill could trigger legal battles between India and the US.

Under the proposed law, the US president could take action against India and other countries which either have not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or do not have any agreements with the US for the repatriation of children subjected to global “parental abductions”. The steps the US president could take include limiting security assistance, withdrawal of development assistance and using diplomatic tools to block loans from the World Bank and the IMF, apart from imposing visa restrictions, sources said.

As many as 90 countries including the US, Russia and China are signatories to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It provides for expeditious return of a child abducted internationally by a parent from one member country to another with the interventions of the two governments. Except Sri Lanka, no other South Asian country has signed the Convention.

India’s Ministry of Law and Justice is of the view that if India signs the pact, it would put Indian women married to non-resident Indians or foreign nationals to disadvantage in cases of divorces and legal battles over the custody of children, Indian government sources said. This is also one of the reasons why India has not signed a bilateral agreement with the US for cooperation in such cases, they said.

The Law Commission of India, however, had recommended in 2009 that India should accede to the Hague Convention. New Delhi is currently analyzing the implications of the Bill passed by the House of Representatives, sources said.

 

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Former NBA Star ALLEN IVERSON Ex-Wife Claims HE STOLE OUR KIDS


June 17 , 2013

Source: tmz.com

Former NBA star Allen Iverson has abducted his own children … so says his ex-wife, and now she’s begging the court to force Allen to give them back.

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Tawanna Iverson just filed legal docs, claiming Allen recently asked for permission to take their five kids on a short vacation to Charlotte, NC from May 22nd-May 26th (and Tawanna agreed) but when May 26th rolled around, the children hadn’t been returned.

The kids range in age from 3 to 16 years old.

In the docs, Tawanna says she tried to set up an exchange on June 4th at a neutral location — a nearby Target store — but A.I. never showed up.

Tawanna — who has sole legal and primary physical custody of their children — now believes Allen never took their kids to Charlotte at all … and is currently keeping them at a Sheraton hotel in Georgia.

Tawanna claims she’s especially concerned because Allen’s an alcoholic who drinks around their kids. 

She now wants the court to force him to return the kids … and punish him as well, even suggesting the judge throw his ass in jail.

It’s not the first time she’s tried to get Iverson locked up … she had previously begged the court to send him to the pokey for allegedly not paying more than $40,000 in child support.

Attempts to reach Allen were unsuccessful.

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Parental Kidnapping – Now a Global Issue


May 27, 2013

Source: Boston Herald

On International Missing Children’s Day, marked May 25th, we remembered the thousands of missing children and the parents who grieve and plead for help. Since 2008, more than 7,000 American children have been abducted to a foreign country — not by a stranger, but by their other parent.

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Such children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and may experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and fearfulness.

Members of Congress have seen the lopsided battles our constituents face to bring their children home from a foreign jurisdiction. Michael Elias, a combat-injured Iraqi veteran from New Jersey, has not held his children since 2008, when his ex-wife used her Japanese consulate connections to abduct Jade and Michael Jr. in violation of New Jersey court orders. Japan has refused to return the children or prosecute the abductor.

Elias told Congress, “All my hopes and dreams for their future now lie in the hands of others. … I am begging our government to help not only my family, but hundreds of other heartbroken families as well, to demand the return of our American children who are being held in Japan.”

Colin Bower’s children, Noor and Ramsay, were abducted from their home in Boston to Egypt nearly four years ago by their mother — who had lost custody because of her drug use and psychological problems. The Egyptian government facilitated the abduction by issuing fraudulent Egyptian passports, providing passage on the government-owned airline, and by shielding the mother, who comes from a well-connected family, from any accountability or responsibility.

American_Child

At a recent hearing Bower noted the billions of dollars in U.S. assistance to Egypt and observed, “Regardless of whatever moral, fiscal, or political balance you use, providing uninterrupted aid to a partner that acts this way is quite simply wrong. If this is American foreign policy, it’s flawed and it isn’t working. We aren’t getting what we pay for.”

Tragically, the Obama administration has limited itself to diplomatic requests for the return of the children. In the words of Bernard Aronson, former assistant secretary of state of inter-American affairs, “a diplomatic request for which there is no real consequence for refusal is simply a sophisticated form of begging.”

It is time for a new approach. That is why we have introduced H.R. 1951, the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, which will give the president powerful tools to motivate a country’s quick response for the return of abducted children.

If a country has 10 or more cases not being resolved in a timely manner, or the judiciary, or law enforcement, or other responsible entity is persistently failing to fulfill their obligations, the president can take action to aggressively advocate for our children’s return — such as denying certain assistance, canceling cultural exchanges, opposing international loans, or extraditing the abductor.

This bill creates the expectation of action — not just words — to bring every American child home. In the words of then-Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2012 passage of a Senate resolution calling for the return of the Bower children, we must “remain focused like a laser beam until this father is reunited with his two boys,” and every other abducted American child comes home. We can, and must, do more than talk.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R) represents New Jersey’s 4th District.

 

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Parental Child Abduction – Dominican Republic


April 20, 2013

As a signatory of to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the Dominican Republic is responsible to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained. Dominican is presently retaining several U.S. children for over a year without a return order from the courts. Meanwhile fit and loving parents are denied all contact with their children.

Parental_Child_Abduction_Dominican_Republic

Through a well-funded Department of Human Services, the United States is well equipped to prevent any return exposing a child to physical or psychological harm or placing the child in an intolerable situation. Additionally, the U.S. has the infrastructure and resources to provide desperately needed services to by children and parents. In contrast, the Dominican Republic burdened with education problems, a high rate of child abuse, and domestic violence. It is more likely that a child would be exposed an intolerable situation in the Dominican Republic than the United States. We respectfully request that the Dominican courts promptly hear all Hague return request and provide a respective return order for each child with a habitual U.S. Residence. In Addition, we request that regular contact be allowed between children and parents while awaiting a return order.

 Dominican_Child

“Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before.” (Hoff, 1997)

The Dominican Republic has a long history of human rights violations from refusing birth documents to children born from Haitian parents, police executions, and human trafficking. The Dominican Republic courts have delayed and denied the return of Minor U.S. Citizen illegally removed from the United States. As a signatory of to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the Dominican Republic is responsible to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained.

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Providing assistance in cases of international parental child abductions


August 15, 2012

Source: The Washington Post

More than 1,300 children living in the United States were victims of international parental abductions in 2011 — taken to a foreign country and kept there without one parent’s permission.

As a member of the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, it is Scott Renner’s job to provide assistance to the parent whose child has been taken away without their consent to either Mexico or Canada.

 

In this role, Renner and his staff help aggrieved parents contact the proper authorities in Mexico or Canada, get legal assistance, locate their children, negotiate voluntary settlements or begin the judicial process for the child’s return so that the issue of custody can be resolved by a court in the U.S. Renner does not make decisions on who should have custody, but steps into the breach to help parents who often have nowhere else to turn.

“We don’t judge their cases. It’s not about who is a better parent,” said Renner. “A judge in Mexico is supposed to decide if the child is to be sent back to the United States, and a judge in the United States will decide which parent should have custody.”

Renner said the cases are often difficult, contentious and emotional. They involve navigating different judicial systems, different legal definitions of custody and many other obstacles.

“We don’t deal with happy families and the cases are often complicated,” said Renner. “It may not always turn out well, but we give them a voice, explain the laws and procedures and help them as best we can.”

About one-third of all reported international parental child abductions from the United States involve Mexico. According to the latest statistics, 1,367 children were reported abducted by parents and taken to foreign countries in 2011, with 465 of those going to Mexico. Mexico has been a focal point for a number of reasons, including strong cultural and social and economic ties with the U.S., many of cross-border relationships, a great deal of immigration back and forth and a very long border.

Renner said some abducted children are never returned, some cases take years to resolve and others are settled relatively quickly. He said improved cooperation with Mexican authorities has helped, with 180 children returned to the United States from Mexico in 2010 and 250 in 2011.

“One of the biggest problems we have is locating the kids. Mexico is a chaotic country,” said Renner. “Kids can be missing for eight to 10 years.”

In one case, Renner said, a child was abducted by a parent in the United States and taken to a town in Mexico that had barricaded itself from the drug traffickers. He said a local judge was “brave enough’ to pursue the matter, negotiated with the child’s grandmother and got an agreement to send the youngster back to the mother in the United States.

Renner became the first chief of a newly-created Mexico and Canada branch in September 2010 shortly after the United States’ relationship with Mexico on parental abductions hit a low point. The State Department had cited Mexico as “not compliant” with the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention, a treaty designed to return an abducted child promptly to his country of habitual residence.

Colleagues said Renner promoted coordination and collaboration with Mexico, and helped improve a strained relationship, expedite new cases and resolve many of those that had been backlogged.

Beth Payne, director of the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues, said Renner “worked on the diplomatic level to change way we dealt with Mexican officials on child abduction issues.”

“He traveled to Mexico, worked with different groups, met with government officials, established personal relationships and strong connections, talked about what was in their interest and ours, and got positive solutions to many cases,” said Payne. “He has created the model that we are now following in the rest of the office.”

Renner, a Foreign Service Officer, joined the State Department in 1997 and has had assignments in Nigeria, Chile, Columbia and Poland. This month, he will be promoted from his current job to serve as division chief for Western Hemisphere Outgoing Abductions.

Renner said his job, like many of his other assignments, have given him a chance to “help people solve their problems.”

“I have always been motivated to make a difference on a personal level,” said Renner. “It is really rewarding for me and I am getting paid to do it.”

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Mother facing kidnap charge loses US extradition fight


Source: BBC News

A mother accused of international parental kidnapping has lost her fight against extradition to America.

The High Court ruled Eileen Clark, who moved to Britain with her three children in 1998, should be returned to the US.

The kidnapping allegations, made more than 12 years ago, were brought against Mrs Clark by her ex-husband John Clark.

The US citizen was arrested at her home in Oxfordshire in July 2010, following a US government request for her return.

Lawyers for Mrs Clark, 54, said her worsening psychiatric problems and fear of flying would make extradition “oppressive”.

‘Hardship not oppressive’

They also criticised US authorities for not seeking her return earlier, as she had been living “openly” in the UK since December 1998 and had put down “deep roots”.

But Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Underhill, sitting in London, dismissed her appeal.

Mr Justice Underhill said: “We accept there will be hardship for the appellant if she is returned to the US to stand trial, but we do not believe that hardship can properly be characterised as oppressive.”

Mrs Clark had left her husband in February 1995, taking their children with her.

Jury indictment

In June 1995, state prosecutors had charged her with “custodial interference” after she travelled from the family’s New Mexico home to stay with a friend in California.

Both parents retained legal custody of the children after divorcing in 1997.

A US grand jury eventually indicted her with the kidnapping charge after Mrs Clark moved to Britain with the children, who are also US citizens.

In March last year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that extradition could go ahead.

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Custody Laws – Violating the Custody Order Through Parental Kidnapping


If you are lucky to have your child back after he or she was kidnapped by your ex-spouse, you will now have to deal with another nightmare: the resulting trauma on your child.

The effects of parental kidnapping are emotionally, developmentally and psychologically devastating on children who in a moment were stolen away from their entire world of familiarity. Parents stealing children after a high conflict custody battle is not uncommon. Surprisingly more than 50 percent of these kidnappings take place during a scheduled visitation after which the child is not returned.

Taking a child away and concealing his or her location to the custodial parent in violation of a visitation order is a crime and a form of child abuse. Parental abduction has permanent ramifications in the victim’s life. The emotional effects on the abducted child can be as harmful as those of sexual abuse or neglect. After such an experience, children tend to be more timid, clingy, and relate poorly to others.

In her presentation to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights titled “Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse”, Dr. Nancy Faulkner identified nine of the many harmful effects parental abduction can have on a child:

  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Learned Helplessness
  • Fear and Phobias
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Guilt
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Parental Alienation
  • Separation Anxiety and Fear of Abandonment
  • Grief

If you have been in a prolonged and highly conflictive custody and visitation battle, you must rigorously adhere to the guidelines in the order. The same is applicable to your ex-spouse. He or she must abide to the time share percentages and visitation calendar conformed in the order. Many custodial parents are so drained after a custody dispute that they avoid having to go to court in order to enforce or modify the order. However, it is your obligation to watch over your child’s health, safety and welfare. A parent who regularly fails to comply with the visitation schedule or percentages of time share is not acting right. He or she is acting in contempt of the court. He or she is been disrespectful to you, to your child, and to our legal system. This parent is not a good role model for your child, and in fact, he or she might turn out to be a bad influence for your kid.

Repetitive violations to the custody and visitation order mean that you must go back to court to have the order enforced. The parent who regularly fails to comply with the visitation schedule is relating in an erratic and unhealthy manner with your child. This type of conduct should be addressed and penalized from the very start, in order to avoid a more serious violation, such as your child being kidnapped by your ex-spouse.

Find out about the custody laws that will impact your case, and learn how to get the custody order you want.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Caleb_Jonsun

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Father fights for daughter in parental kidnapping case


Source:  Jessica Rush, Planojobs.us June 13, 2011

Ronnie Baker / Staff Photo –For the last two years, Plano father Bart Hermer has dedicated his life to seeing his daughter returned from overseas. Alessia was abducted by her mother and represents one of more than 200,000 family abduction cases in the United States every year
Bart Hermer carries a pacifier with him at all times. It’s purple with flecks of glitter and has the words “Princess Alessia” scrolled across the plastic.
He keeps the soother as a small comfort of his own — a reminder that his 2-year-old daughter, Alessia, is still out there and waiting to be reunited with her father.For now, Alessia lives in the United Kingdom with her mother, 40-year-old Simmone Cohen, who is a British citizen. Hermer and his parents have spent around $75,000 on an international custody battle that has left them drained both monetarily and emotionally.

Every night, Hermer sleeps on a bed in the nursery to feel closer to his daughter, but an empty crib is a constant reminder that the woman who first stole his heart, also stole his most precious possession.
Blindsided
Hermer and Cohen’s relationship started out as a picture-perfect romance. He fell for her British accent and stunning looks when they met on a single’s cruise in 2007, and months later they were visiting each other’s countries. The aging couple talked about both wanting children, so within a matter of months they were engaged.”I swear on my daughter’s life, heart and soul we never had an argument,” Hermer said, reflecting on the blissful times. “We were the envy of everybody we knew.”

The two began planning for a wedding at the Dallas Arboretum — plans that were delayed when Cohen found out she was pregnant with Alessia. When the baby was 10 months old, Cohen planned a regular trip for the three of them to visit her family in London. Hermer said he had just been laid off from his job as an advertising executive, but Cohen had income from her marketing business she ran from their Plano home.

While going through customs at the London airport, Hermer was pulled aside and questioned. A customs officer accused him of trying to enter the country with the intention to live there — information Hermer’s fiancee had told them. As much as Hermer denied the story, he was sent back to the United States alone, and Cohen and Alessia remained in England.

“I was set up,” Hermer said. “The truth was she just wanted a baby.”

Back in Texas, Cohen’s designer clothes still hang in the closet. Her laptop was left behind, and a Plano detective confirmed in writing that she wrote messages contradicting their happy engagement.

“I definitley [sic] don’t want to marry him,” Cohen wrote in one Skype message to a family member. “… he knows I am delaying things so he may have guessed,” she wrote to a friend.

“She played him like a sucker,” Hermer’s mother, Kathy, said. “She lied about everything.”

An epidemic
The Hermer’s are not alone in their daily struggle with parental kidnapping. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) estimates more than 200,000 family abduction cases occur annually in the United States.

In cases involving children taken from the United States to the United Kingdom, 92 percent of cases are unresolved for longer than a year, and 38 percent are unresolved for more than five years, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Hermer has tried to use international child abduction laws from the Hague Convention to get Alessia back. Article 3 of the convention talks about the “rights of custody” and says the courts must use the law of the state — in this case Texas — where the child was a resident before being abducted.

Even with letters of support from Texas Senators Florence Shapiro and Jane Nelson and state Rep. Jerry Madden, most of Hermer’s evidence was not allowed in the British court.

“I was not given a fair trial,” Hermer said. “I have solid evidence from credible people … and that evidence was not allowed. A lot of these countries will not return a child because of gender bias.”

After a crushing loss with denial of appeal, Hermer is trying a different approach. He hopes Attorney General Greg Abbott will push to have Cohen extradited to Texas on felony kidnapping charges.

“If my child stays there, it sets the precedent for thousands of children in the future,” Hermer said.

Time is ticking
Two years have passed with Hermer devoting his life to studying state and federal parental kidnapping law. He now works as assistant director of the Global Missing Children Fund.
Precedence from other international kidnapping cases shows that courts consider a child acclimated to their new country once they reach 3 years old. After that point, the courts are reluctant to return the child.

“I’ve got six months,” Hermer said, desperation in his voice. “She’s my life. She’s my pride. I don’t want to catch up with her in my 70s.”

He sees her occassionally when he is allowed to enter England for scheduled court hearings, but the trips are expensive and visitation is never guaranteed.

“When they are together it’s like they’ve never been separated for a moment,” Kathy said. “They had such a tight bond.”

Hermer is praying that someone will hear Alessia’s story and know how to help. While he is openly thankful for the ongoing support from Jewish Family Services, a separate fund has been set up for donations to offset some of the court costs at www.firstgiving.com/Bring-Alessia-Home.

“I’ll never quit until she’s in that crib,” he said. “I don’t care what it takes.”

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Bermuda on Congressman’s hit list over child abduction treaty


July 9, 2011 – Source: The Royal Gazette

Bermuda is among the countries that need to be punished for harbouring children kidnapped from the US, according to Congressman Chris Smith.

The Republican has named and shamed the Island as one of about 20 countries failing to abide by an international child abduction treaty.

Mr Smith, who represents New Jersey, said more than 2,400 American children were wrongly being held overseas, calling it a “deeply troubling and growing problem.”

He told the US Congress that Bermuda had carried out a “serious human rights violation” by failing to quickly return abducted children who had been unlawfully removed by one parent. The international treaty states that abducted children should be returned within six weeks for custody hearings as the courts in the country where the child was living have better access to the appropriate evidence and witnesses.

In light of this, Mr Smith is pushing to pass the International Child Abduction Prevention Act bill through Congress to secure the return of abducted children and penalise non-cooperating countries by withholding US financial aid and other assets.

Mr Smith said “the return rates of American children are still devastatingly low” even though more than 80 countries had signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

In 2010, 978 children were abducted to Hague Convention signatory countries with only 350 children or 38 percent returned.

Mr Smith, chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights, said the US would not tolerate child abduction or have patience with countries “that hide abductors behind The Hague Convention.”

The report states that: “Bermuda demonstrated patterns of noncompliance in the areas of central authority performance and judicial performance.”

It questions Bermuda’s application of the Convention when the taking party is not a parent, the challenges in bringing a Convention case to court when the Central Authority is also responsible for representing the state in court for child abuse cases and some courts’ failure to prohibit consideration of the merits of custody in domestic proceedings while a Hague application is pending.

The report details a June 2010 case when the Bermudian Central Authority wrongly said that because the taking person was an aunt and not a parent, the Convention would not apply. The family court then proceeded with a custody hearing and granted the aunt “full care, control and custody” of the child despite the pending Hague application.

The report states: “In November 2010, Bermuda appointed a new Attorney General (Michael Scott) who has expressed his commitment to ensuring that Bermuda is compliant with the Convention.

“At his urging, the court in the above case scheduled a hearing on The Hague application, but the left-behind parent (LBP) withdrew the application just days before the hearing, citing a lack of legal representation and a voluntary agreement with the taking aunt.”

The emotional federal hearing debate, which took place on May 24, included speeches from the parents of children abducted from America.

Mr Smith said international abduction was “a global human rights abuse” that harms children and inflicts emotional pain and suffering on the left-behind parents and families.

He said: “International child abduction rips children from their homes and lives, taking them to a foreign land and alienating them from a left- behind parent who loves them and who they have a right to know.

“Their childhood is disrupted, in limbo, or sometimes in hiding as the taking parent seeks to avoid the law or to conjure legal cover for their immoral actions.

“Abducted children often lose their relationship with their mom or their dad, half of their identity and half of their culture.”

Attorney General Michael Scott and Youth Affairs and Families Minister Glenn Blakeney did not respond to requests for comment.

The US State Department’s 2010 Hague Convention compliance report highlights Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey for failing to enforce return orders.

It also states that Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Mexico, the Bahamas and Saint Kitts are among countries failing to abide by The Hague Convention, by not ensuring swift enforcement of convention orders.

He said: “The convention creates a civil framework for the quick return of children who have been abducted and for rights of access to both parents.

“Under the convention, courts are not supposed to open or reopen custody determinations, but rather decide the child’s country of habitual residence, usually where a child was living for a year before the abduction.

“Absent extenuating circumstances, the child is to be returned within six weeks to their habitual residence, for the courts there to decide on custody or to reverse any previous custody determinations.”

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